European Commission To Refocus on GDPR Compliance and Investigations
June 7, 2023
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In today's digital age, the protection of personal data has become a critical concern for individuals and organizations alike. Recognizing the need to establish stringent safeguards, the European Union (EU) introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. The EU is at the helm of protecting data and privacy rights. They ensure companies monitor and comply with some of the strictest General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) worldwide.
The European Commission (EC), which monitors and enforces GDPR, recently announced that it is refocusing its efforts on GDPR Compliance and Investigations. Companies are well advised to ramp up their efforts to comply with GDPR to avoid hefty fines.
What is GDPR Compliance and What It Means
In an era where data breaches and privacy concerns have become all too common, the implementation of the GDPR stands as a crucial step in safeguarding the privacy and data rights of individuals. Payments happen in the blink of an eye, and companies track every move you make online. With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning developing at an ever-growing rate, marketers can predict and even shape consumer behavior, among other things.
The GDPR was drafted to protect consumers and their private data. It quickly became the global standard for data protection. Known as the “Brussels effect”, GDPR compliance has become a top priority for financial institutions and businesses on a worldwide scale.
The primary aim of GDPR is to empower individuals and grant them greater control over their personal data. It establishes a comprehensive set of rules and guidelines that dictate how businesses should handle and process this sensitive information. By strengthening individuals' rights, such as the right to access, rectify, and erase personal data, GDPR enhances the protection of privacy in the digital realm.
GDPR puts companies in metaphorical glass buildings where they monitor their every move. It might sound scary and Orwellian, but imagine a world where there was no monitoring or compliance - where unscrupulous marketers could abuse private data to serve personalized ads and campaigns addressing needs consumers didn’t yet know they had.
GDPR is the glass house - but it must be applied vigilantly to be effective.
How the EC Will Ensure GDPR Compliance
To enhance GDPR compliance, the EC recently announced that it is intensifying its focus on consistent application across the EU by clarifying ambiguities in the regulation. The EC will conduct audits to address implementation challenges and ramp up its GDPR investigations into potential violations. These investigations aim to ensure accountability and deter improper handling of personal data.
The EC has also updated content surrounding matters of guidance to clarify GDPR for businesses and organizations so as to protect privacy rights and tighten data protection. Topics include consent, data protection, impact assessments, and data transfers outside the EU.
It emphasizes the importance of cross-border cooperation between EU members to ensure consistent enforcement and a unified approach to addressing cross-border data transfers.
It’s pointless to have regulations, monitor compliance, and ramp up investigations unless there are proper deterrents for companies that don't comply. To this end, non-compliance with GDPR carries significant fines.
The EC can impose a fine of up to 4% of a company’s global annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. The two companies with the highest fines imposed by the EC since its inception are Amazon (£636m) and WhatsApp (€225m). Both companies are currently contesting the penalties.
The fines were imposed following intensified regulatory scrutiny of big tech companies due to concerns of non-compliance over privacy and misinformation. Smaller businesses have also complained that big tech giants abuse their market power.
Amazon and WhatsApp are by no means the only companies that fell foul of GDPR compliance breaches. But these fines are the largest since the law was tabled in 2018 - and by a significant margin. too.
Big Tech and AI are under scrutiny as the EC tightens GDPR Compliance and Investigations
Speaking of big tech: following the hype around artificial intelligence (AI), the EC recently published proposed regulations aimed at AI and Big Tech, making it the first regulator to craft strict laws on AI.
The EC aims to align AI and Big Tech with GDPR to protect consumers. It will go a long way in leveling the playing field to ensure Big Tech does not have an unfair advantage by developing subliminal techniques to manipulate people. Time will tell whether these regulations will be adopted as widely as GDPR.
An article published in the Economist looks critically at AI and GDPR compliance. It focuses on the riskiest aspects of AI: facial recognition and credit scoring. These technologies are considered high-risk - they should be subject to strict transparency and data-quality rules. The article states that:
“As with GDPR, penalties for violations are stiff: up to €30 million ($36 million) or 6% of global revenues, whichever is higher (in the case of a firm as big as Facebook, for example, that would come to more than $5 billion)”.
How Sighthound Can Make You GDPR Compliance
At Sighthound, we understand the critical importance of data protection and privacy. With our advanced data protection software and consultancy services, we provide tailored solutions that address the unique compliance needs of each business.
Our flagship product, Sighthound Redactor, is a powerful software solution designed to safeguard personal data in videos and images. Powered by advanced machine learning algorithms, it allows businesses to easily blur or remove sensitive and identifiable elements, ensuring GDPR compliance and protecting the privacy of individuals. With fast and accurate redaction capabilities, Sighthound Redactor streamlines the process of anonymizing sensitive information, empowering businesses to confidently handle visual content without compromising privacy.
Sighthound's solutions are tailored to the specific needs and requirements of each organization, ensuring a customized approach that aligns with your business objectives. We understand that every business is unique, and our solutions reflect this understanding.
The Future Of GDPR Compliance
GDPR regulations are not static; they are evolving to keep pace with the rapidly changing digital landscape and the growing concerns around data privacy. Staying informed about the latest developments and adapting to new requirements is crucial for businesses to maintain ongoing GDPR compliance.
As technology advances and new data protection challenges emerge, the EC and other regulatory bodies are expected to introduce updates and changes to the GDPR framework. These changes may include revisions to existing regulations, new guidelines, or additional requirements to address emerging privacy concerns.
Businesses must be proactive in keeping up with these changes to ensure they remain compliant and protect the privacy of individuals. Failure to adapt to evolving GDPR regulations can result in non-compliance, potential fines, and reputational damage.
Conclusion: The GDPR is Setting an Example for the Rest of the World
The EC investigations and reports are completely confidential. Individuals will not know which Big Tech or other smaller companies with whom they shared their private data are under investigation. The EC will announce GDPR compliance and investigations once reports have been submitted and approved.
In today's business landscape, GDPR compliance is not just a legal obligation but a crucial step towards protecting the privacy and data rights of individuals. The European Commission's renewed focus on enforcement and investigations serves as a stark reminder that businesses must prioritize data protection to avoid hefty fines and reputational damage.
To ensure GDPR compliance, businesses must take proactive steps, including conducting data protection assessments, implementing security measures, appointing a Data Protection Officer, and incorporating privacy by design principles.
At Sighthound, we understand the complexities of GDPR compliance, and we are here to help businesses navigate this landscape with confidence. Our advanced data protection software, Sighthound Redactor, provides a seamless solution for anonymizing sensitive information in videos and images, ensuring GDPR compliance without compromising visual content.
To take the next step towards GDPR compliance, we invite you to explore how Sighthound can assist your business. Our team is ready to guide you through the process, empower you with the necessary tools, and help you build a stronger foundation for data protection.